Tuesday 27 January 2015

It is not all beer and sausages - Part Ten

It is not all beer and sausages – Part Ten

Over the summer break the running and sausages diet was to the fore. I ate plenty of enjoyable snarlers and with a few training runs I was putting the sausages and running diet to the test.

As part of the preparation for the Tararua Mountain Race in March I completed the Jumbo Holdsworth in the weekend. This is a 24km run with a few serious hills to add to the experience. The run through the bush to Atiwhakatu Hut was ok, but I never felt comfortable. The 900m of vertical climb up the steep ascent to Jumbo was a case of going into a lower gear and keeping on chugging up the slope. I didn’t push it as hard as I could as I had a good conversation about off road running events with a woman from Auckland who was in the Tararuas for the first time. Although I don’t go fast I did manage to pass a few people on the ascent. As I reached the summit of Jumbo I knew it was going to be a tough day.

It was a stinking hot Wairarapa day and temperature in the valleys reached over thirty degrees. Along the ridge from Jumbo to Mt Holdsworth it was very warm, well over twenty degrees. A very occasional gentle zephyr wafted through, however this was too infrequent for my liking and did little to lower the temperature. I had to move at a slower pace due the heat, and by the time I reached the Holdsworth trig I knew that I would be doing a slower time than I did last year so I didn’t push it on the way back to the finish. I completed half an hour slower than last year but was pleased to have finished and was looking forward to the picnic at the end.

My running mates were very supportive after I finished and one asked if I had boiled a billy and had a brew at some stage on the course. A few of us are using this as part of the training for the TMR in seven weeks’ time and a woman who I gave a ride to the event thought she was underdone for the 100km Tarawera Ultra so she entered late and finished the course well in front of me. It is all good fun and a nice way to spend a Saturday morning.

At the end of the event we had a picnic in the much sort out shade. I brought some Acme Pork and Veal Bratwurst from Moore Wilsons. They are gluten free, use free range meat and have no preservatives. These were eaten cold and savoured after a hard run in the hills. These are a lightly coloured sausage with more veal than pork in the mix. These sausages are finely ground and mixed with some chunks of fat that are visible in the sausage. There are subdued flavours of nutmeg and garlic. After a long run they went down positively with the group. The Acme and Co meat company runs out of the popular Prefab Cafe in Jessie St.

The organisers also put on a barbecue where they served meat patties and beef sausages from Whariti Meats in Woodville. This is a finely ground sausage where beef is the primary flavour. They are very good standard beef banger.

The food was washed down with a refreshing beer, an organic Mike’s Full Nelson IPA. This Taranaki beer was great on a very hot day. It has a dark amber colour and was crisp and refreshing after many hours on the feet.

With seven weeks to go until the TMR I am hoping for a day that it is not as hot as it was in weekend. The time spent on the exposed tops is considerably longer in the TMR and although on a good day the views are magnificent from the ridges of the Tararuas, with no wind or cloud, and a scorching sun, it makes running hard work. The running and sausages diet has another seven weeks to take full effect.
For other parts of this series, here is an index.

Top Cut Butchers - Raglan

Top Cut Butchers - Raglan

After eating the pork and cranberry sausages, see review, I was determined to return to this butcher’s shop and sample more of their sausages. I will admit that prior to my first visit I had low expectations of a) there even being a butcher in Raglan and b) that if there was a butcher, I wondered what the quality of sausages would be like. When I had purchased the pork and cranberry I talked to the butcher who was friendly and informative. He told me they were recovering from New Year’s Eve when they had sold over quarter of a tonne of snarlers. They make around sixty varieties of sausages and over the next day or so the sausage production would be gearing up back into action.

As we were heading back to Wellington I purchased a small amount of several varieties of sausages from Top Cut. These were cooked once we got back to Wellington. This was over two evenings, other meats and even a piece of salmon were also served with veges.

The varieties purchased were Bavarian bratwurst, spicy Italian, roast lamb and caramelised onion, and smokey bacon and maple.

The butcher told me he uses a recipe for the Bavarian bratwurst that he got from a guy who goes to Oktoberfest each year and that he makes these snarlers for the punters who attend this German cultural event. He spends the rest of year working on cruise ships. This is a pork sausage that has flavours of coriander and nutmeg. It is chunky with a coarse to medium grind. This was a very nice sausage that I would happily buy again.

The spicy Italian is a pork sausage that has fennel as the dominant flavour. Also present is white wine flavour with a slight level of chilli and paprika as an after taste. This is a medium to coarsely ground sausage. This is an ok sausage, however there are other sausages from Top Cut Butcher that I prefer.

Smokey bacon and maple is a pork sausage where bacon complements the maple flavour. This is a finely ground sausage and they are a smaller breakfast style banger. Prior to cooking they had a strong aroma of bacon and maple syrup but this aroma is not matched by flavour strength on the palate. I am not all that keen on maple syrup, however the kids have always been keen starters for maple syrup on pancakes so I wasn’t surprised that they made positive comments about these snarlers.

The roast lamb and caramelised onion was the favourite of the daughter. She had not come on holiday with us and appeared to be pleased to be back with her family and enjoying the snarlers her dad cooked up. This lamb sausage has a nicely balanced onion flavour. It is finely ground and was the daughter’s favourite. I would buy this sausage again.

The conclusion I reached about Top Cut Butchers was they are great little butcher’s shop that exceeded my expectations. They make a wide variety of quality sausages. If you are in Raglan they are definitely worth a visit to sample some of their range. The sausages will appeal to the kiwi palate, the continental varieties they make do not push the boundaries with flavours. While I prefer a strongly flavoured smoked chorizo, you will find lots of quality bangers that will stimulate the taste buds at Top Cut.

We had a great time in Raglan and will be back next year for a two week stay at Pep’s Cottage. I will look forward to sampling more of the fine array of sausages that can be purchased at Top Cut Butchers.

Friday 23 January 2015

The new dinner set

The new dinner set


For those foodies who look at the crockery in the photos of this blog, you may have noticed a few plates of the Narvik pattern from Crown Lynn pottery. This pattern was manufactured from 1959-1975. I’m not sure where we acquired our first plate from, however when we saw another one we bought it. We then set a goal to create a set of eight plates. While on our holiday a complete dinner set was advertised on Trade Me. Six settings of dinner plates, two smaller plates, bowls and the often damaged and hard to source cups and saucers. All of the set was in very good condition. We purchased the dinner set are were very pleased when we collected it from Taumaranui on the way home from Raglan - we didn't even have to make detour.

The mid afternoon sausage snack - Hellertau Stuntman Snarlers

The mid afternoon sausage snack - Hellertau Stuntman Snarlers

The window of Westmere Butchery, the awards they win are well deserved.

My mate who was visiting from England suggested we eat out together as it was their last night in New Zealand. Being the flexible types we are we agreed, however a small problem did exist. We had a small sample of Hallertau Stuntman sausages for Westmere Butchery in the fridge. These sausages won the best beer banger award in the 2014 Devro NZ Sausage Competition. After another day at Wainui Beach enjoying the surf and sand we came back to the bach to cook the snarlers for a mid afternoon snack. The boys and I soon had them eaten.

The butcher in Auckland described these as a smoked pork bratwurst with chilli. This sausage is very slightly smoked, with very mild taste of chilli, there is a small level of heat in the after taste. The sausage is named after Hellertau Stuntman, a craft beer, this is used to augment the flavours in the sausage. Stuntman is a hoppy IPA that I have not sampled. The fusion of the delicate smoke and light chilli along with Hellertau Stuntman meant that the meat was the dominant flavour. I did consider that the butcher’s description and my palate were at different places in relation to this sausage. However this is still a very pleasant sausage that will appeal to your average kiwi snarler eater's palate. While I would purchase this sausage again.
Our families went to The Shack in Raglan for dinner, great food along with witty repartee meant the evening was very enjoyable.

Wednesday 21 January 2015

The interlude from sausages:

The interlude from sausages:

It was our wedding anniversary and my wife and I went out to dinner at Orca in Raglan. She said to me as we perused the menu, "Do you realise this is our first evening meal on holiday that does not include sausages?"

I replied in a loving way with, "I wondered when you were going to raise this matter?"

We had a very enjoyable sausage free dinner. The food was high quality and I would recommend Orca for those looking for a sausage free meal in Raglan.

Wainui Beach, Raglan and Sausages

Wainui Beach, Raglan and Sausages

We went to Wainui Beach, this is also called Ngarunui Beach. It is six kilometres long and at the southern end of the beach it is patrolled by surf lifesavers. We had a great time at the beach, boogie boarding and body surfing in good sized waves. A friend who I went to school with and played rugby with in the years after school was in NZ, he has been living in England for the last 26 years. With the busy led up to Christmas we failed to connect while he was in Wellington. In a piece of serendipity he was in Raglan at the same time with his family. They also enjoyed the waves at Wainui Beach on this day and as the day ended we had his whanau around for dinner at our bach.

We cooked the cracked pepper and Worcestershire sauce sausages, along with some pork and cranberry sausages I had purchased from Top Cut Butchers in Raglan. These were served with lamb loin chops, grilled eggplant, ciabatta that my wife baked, and salads: green leaf with avocado, tomato and cucumber; tomato and feta; and potato.

The cracked pepper and Worcestershire snarlers are a medium grind, the meat is complemented with an array of flavours. The flavour of pepper is dominant, as a secondary taste, the tang of the Worcestershire sauce is also present. These are a different sausage, I would call them strongly flavoured, and pleasantly so. These sausages do not have chilli or paprika to strengthen the flavour and so offer a strongly flavoured sausage that is quite unique in how it achieves the strength of flavour. Very enjoyable.

The pork and cranberry sausages were more of a breakfast sausage they are a small sausage in length and diameter. They are finely ground with the dominant flavour being pork accentuated with a slight taste of cranberry on the palate. They were well received by the meat eaters present, despite being poorly cooked by myself on the barbecue. I was still coming to grips with the nuances of the bach’s barbecue. My mate and his partner are vegetarians but their kids appreciated a couple of very good kiwi bangers.

I would purchase both of these sausages again.

Over the meal we reflected on earlier days, and the merits of bringing up kids in NZ or in England. There are some aspects of kiwi life that don't exist in Britain. as my mate said, "You just don't see a rugby ball being mucked around with by people in the UK." He had liked seeing the rugby balls on the both the beach and in water at Wainui. As the end of the day arrived and his whanau departed headed to the sack, I was looking forward to another sun soaked day in Raglan.

Tuesday 20 January 2015

A second visit to Westmere Butchery and on to Raglan

A second visit to Westmere Butchery and on to Raglan

As we headed from the far north to Raglan we decided to go via Westmere Butchery to purchase some more sausages. On the list to purchase were pork and lemon; pork, blue cheese and walnut; and Italian Banderia. Westmere Butchery make a wide array of sausages and when we visited not one of the desired flavours were currently on display. The shop was busy and so we selected cracked pepper and Worcestershire sauce, chicken and cranberry, and Hellertau Stuntman sausages. With the sausages in a cold bag, it was off to Raglan.

We had booked a bach through the internet, and stayed at Pep’s Cottage in Raglan. This was a great house to stay for our sojourn, the view from the deck was magnificent.

My father had worked in Raglan briefly during the early 1970s. I remembered the harbour, the mud flats and rowing in a dinghy but not a lot else about the town. We lived a place that had a path down into the bush, this led to the long drop  that was the house's toilet. It is interesting about what you recall after over forty years.

For the first night in Raglan we cooked the chicken and cranberry snarlers. These were eaten with fresh corn on the cob, a potato salad and a green salad.

The chicken and cranberry sausages are a fine grind quality chicken sausage with a slight hint of cranberry. They were pleasant eating, but were not outstanding. I would rate The Fridge, New Plymouth and Island Bay Butchery’s chicken sausages as superior to any of the chicken sausages we had eaten recently from Westmere Butchery.

As the sun went down and we ate our meal on the deck we looked forward with anticipation to our time in Raglan.

Friday 9 January 2015

Beaches and Sausages.... The saga continues....

Beaches and Sausages…. The saga continues….
This beach trip today was meant to be to Tokau Bay but we struggled to find access to this beach and ended up a little bit further north on the coast. Matauri Bay is a brilliant looking beach. It would be great for families with younger kids. The water was warm and inviting on a hot Northland day, although I would have preferred larger waves.

We went back to Paihia via the twin coast highway, where there are a number of smaller spectacularly visually appealing bays between Matauri Bay and Whangaroa Harbour. The drive via the coastal route is well worth it.

At dinner I was in charge of the barbecue (as had become the house routine) and we cooked sausages from Churchill’s Butchers and Deli in Kerikeri. When we had called in on New Year’s Eve the shop was very busy and the meat cabinets showed that the shop had sold a lot of snarlers that day with trays for many varieties empty. I purchased the pork and cider sausage along with Nürmberg sausage.

The pork and apple cider sausage was a medium to fine grind - gluten, dairy and soy free. Lumps of apple can be seen in the sausage. The sweetness of the apple and the cider complement the sweetness of the pork well and it is a very pleasant sausage. It was declared by my mate’s partner as the best example of a gluten free sausage that we had eaten over the last few days. High praise indeed when you compared this with the quality sausages that we had consumed. Personally I would have ranked Westmere Butchery’s pork and lemon as the best of the gluten free snarlers.

The Nürmberg sausage is small snarler, just on appearances I would call it a breakfast sausage. It is finely ground. This is a pork sausage with flavours of marjoram, salt and pepper. It is mildly flavoured and is a sausage what would appeal to a wide range of sausage eaters.

As our time in the far north comes to an end it is great to have had fantastic company, beaches and simple meals in the evening with salads, fresh veges and of course a fine selection of snarlers. We are looking to head off to Raglan on the west coast of the North Island. We continue the search for more beaches, sun, fine company and the great barbecue snarler. There is more to come….

Thursday 8 January 2015

Elliot's Beach and Italian Banderia

Elliot’s Beach and Italian Banderia


A trip to Elliot’s Beach meant that the boogie boards were used in a reasonably sized surf. The waves were a little uneven and could dump and twist you on occasion, however it was great to be in the surf on a hot day.

The evening meal was again sausages and salads. This time we ate Italian Banderia from Westmere Butchery. This sausage won gold in the Devro NZ Sausage Awards in the Continental Ready to Eat Category. It was also awarded the People’s Choice Award.

I really enjoyed eating this sausage. The pork is balanced with the mozzarella and parmesan cheeses, both can be detected on the palate. The mozzarella is in small lumps in the sausage and they pop in the mouth as you chew the snarler. These sausages are coarsely ground. There are also flecks of red and green in the sausage. I was unsure about what these were, but the key point is that this is a great sausage. I really enjoyed eating it.

When I am next in Westmere Butchery I will be buying this sausage again. I can understand how this sausage received the People's Choice Awards.

Friday 2 January 2015

Oke Bay and Sausages

Oke Bay and Sausages

We went to the beach just past Rawhiti, Oke Bay, a short walk over a little hill to a beautiful petite sandy bay. The sea was warm and inviting and I enjoyed the refreshing dip in the ocean. As we headed home I was looking forward to a good feed.

Dinner was similar to last evening, green and potato salad, a smaller selection of sausages and some shredded chicken. We started off with an aperitif of smoked king fish on crackers. This was brought to the house by a friend who had caught the fish earlier in week and had smoked some of the fillets. It was great eating.

The two sausages served tonight were also from Westmere Butchery, a gluten, soy and dairy free (see the previous post re the helpfulness of the butchers re ingredients) pork and lemon, along with the sausage that won the Gold Award in the poultry category at the 2014 Devro NZ Sausage Awards, a chicken peri peri sausage.

The pork and lemon sausage was very popular. The finely ground sausage had a moderate amount of lemon flavour. Being gluten, soy and dairy free it meant all people present could sample it. This is a simple, plain sausage with a hint of lemon to complement the pork flavour. An excellent snarler. Cost per kilo: $15.95

The chicken peri peri sausage was a medium ground sausage. The peri peri flavour complements the chicken, when eaten the flavour intensifies as the components of the spices are absorbed by the taste buds. This is a medium ground spiced sausage. It found favour with those at the dinner table, but as indicated the pork and lemon sausage was preferred. I would buy this sausage again. Cost per kilo: $17.95

The weather, sea, sun and surf continue to make our holiday an enjoyable one.

Thursday 1 January 2015

Yachting and Sausages

Yachting and Sausages

We are up in the Bay of Islands staying with friends. The weather is warm, many degrees hotter than Wellington, which is very enjoyable.


I went sailing with my mate who owns the Undine, the original cream boat operated by Fullers that collected milk and cream from farms on the coast and up the rivers and inlets of the Bay Islands. The Undine is a Northland cargo cutter. Hundreds of these boats were built in the nineteenth century but sadly the Undine is the last surviving cargo cutter. She was built in 1887 and today is owned by an ardent sailor who hopes she will see in the twenty-second century.


It was very pleasant out on the water, a little gusty so we sailed with the mainsail and gib. It was a relaxing way to spend the afternoon.

When we got back to the house we cooked up some dinner. Good simple fare for a late summer evening’s dinner.

We cooked up Westmere Butchery’s pork sausages with blue cheese, walnut and pear, along with spicy chicken and coriander sausages. Also served were new potatoes and a green salad.

The spicy chicken and coriander are a medium to fine grind sausage. This sausage is gluten, soy and dairy free and suited the exacting dietary requirements of my mate’s partner and their son perfectly. She had phoned the butchery earlier in the day and they were very helpful in working through the exact ingredients in the sausages – better service would be hard to come by for those who need to be sure of just what they are eating. The coriander is the dominant flavour and there is a significant taste of chilli too. Flakes of the red chilli can be seen in the sausage. The chilli kicks in to a greater degree as an aftertaste. The spices dominate the chicken taste. While the sausage is able to be identified as a chicken sausage in my opinion the flavours are too strong and detract from making this sausage a great chicken sausage. The others at the table agreed with my sentiments. I would not purchase these sausages again but our hostess felt differently. Westmere Butchery made a wide range of quality sausages, everyone has different preferences and when I go back there are lots of flavours that I would prefer to sample. Cost per kilo: $17.95.

The pork, blue cheese, walnut and pear sausages were well received. These have a pork flavour with the dominant secondary flavour being blue cheese. Our whanau like blue cheese, and appreciated this flavoursome sausage. The flavours of the walnut are easy to distinguish and have a lower intensity than the blue cheese. The walnuts are lumpy and add a pleasant textual component to the snarler. The sweetness of the pear is present in small amounts and this sweetness is fleeting on the palate. These sausages are very nice and went down well, I would purchase these again. Cost per kilo: $16.95.
I must admit that I felt a bit intimidated by my mate’s partner - as I took pictures of the dinner she remarked that one of her photos of the Boatshed café in Rawene was in Cuisine magazine, the latest edition with a focus on wine, Cuisine Wine Country 2015. Obviously I need to discuss with her how to improve on my food photographs.